Maganda rises above talented field at High Plains
A month from now, Jesus Maganda may well become the 10th state champion in Schuyler Central High School History. Until then, Maganda can rightly make claim as one of the best in the state at any level after winning the 220-pound weight class on Saturday at the High Plains Invite.
The 50th annual edition of the event featured 10 teams ranked in their respective classes, 55 total ranked wrestlers and a No. 1 or No. 2 ranked wrestler in every bracket.
Maganda, No. 1 in Class B, will no doubt hold onto that spot, and might well be considered the top 220-pound wrestler in the state after successfully navigating a bracket that had seven in the rankings. He was among three top-ranked competitors including Class A No. 1 Tony Pray of Creighton Prep and Class C No. 1 Jon Merten of Boone Central/Newman Grove.
Four decisions and one pin later, Maganda rose above them all to the top of the podium.
“This one...this was good. This was probably the hardest tournament, and probably a little harder than state. I feel good,” Maganda said in the moments after collecting his gold medal and the award for Most Outstanding Wrestler.
“The three guys I faced today are all amazing wrestlers.”
Those three included Class D No. 4 Peyton Cone of Fremont Bergan, Pray and Class A No. 2 Kasten Grape of Columbus.
Maganda opened day one on Friday with a 7-3 victory over Wayne Moore of David City and a pin Kayden Saurer of Hastings Adams Central that took just 19 seconds.
Maganda then opened Saturday defeating cone 9-3 and qualifying for the title match with a hard-fought 3-1 win over Pray setting the stage for Grape vs. Maganda.
Grape had yet to lose this season and, until a 9-1 major decision in the semifinals, had pinned every opponent he had met.
Despite that matchup, and how stacked the bracket was overall, Maganda said he didn’t spend much time concerning himself with the quality of the field.
“Nothing really bothers me. I just focus mentally,” he said. “No wrestler comes in thinking he’s going to lose.
“This was a good tournament. I really enjoyed it. I came in confident, but anybody could have won it. They were all great opponents.”
Grape had the best chance in the first period, but Maganda fought him off his leg and ended the first two minutes in a scoreless tie.
Grape led 1-0 early in the second with an escape and took that slim advantage into the third. Maganda was awarded a stalling point while on the bottom to begin the third then scored a second point taking the lead 2-1 on an escape.
He found the winning move on the right edge of the mat, scoring a takedown on Grape for a 4-1 lead with 35 seconds to go.
Grape escaped and was awarded a stalling point of his own, but Maganda had just enough to hold him off for a 4-3 championship win.
“I just wrestled my style,” Maganda said. “He’s a good wrestler, and strong, so I just had to stay on the offense a lot, try and find my moves, try to be funky and hope for the best.”
Maganda was one of two Warriors in finals matches following Caden Yrkoski (Class B No. 3) advancing through his bracket to a matchup with Class C No. 1 Caleb Long of Valentine.
In a heated and intense battle, one that featured a late throw in the corner after the referee’s whistle, Yrkoski was denied a championship with a 5-3 sudden-victory loss.
He was trailing 3-2 until the last second of the third when he was awarded a stalling point, seemingly had control of a leg in the extra minute, but came up on the short end of a scramble and suffered just his second loss of the season.
Yrkoski was one of five ranked wrestlers at 170 pounds including Long, Class A No. 5 Avery McMeekin of Columbus, Class C No. 3 Jacob Ray of North Bend and Class C No. 2 Dylan Vodicka of David City.
Yrkoski’s day one competition included three pins, one over McMeekin. On Saturday, he defeated 22-4 Ethan Dotzler of Boone Central 6-2 and took down Vodicka in the semifinals 5-4.
Vodicka handed Yrkoski his first loss of the season in a double dual on Dec. 13 8-7.
Other Schuyler medalists included Roberto Pedro taking fifth at 120 pounds, Denilson Martinez winning third also at 120, Kenneth Castro third at 126, Michael Hernandez fourth at 170 and William Marxsen fifth at 182.
Schuyler was sixth as a team with 116 points. Columbus won the tournament title sending five to finals matches and totaling 227 points. Valentine was second with 190, Wahoo third with 160, David City fourth with 135 and Battle Creek fifth with 128.
“This is my biggest win of the year so far,” Maganda said. “I’ve never won this tournament. To win it my senior year with all these great kids feels amazing.
“My confidence is raised a little bit, but I’ve always been confident. I was just trying to prove that I could hang with the big guys. I obviously showed that today.”